In this first of a series Documentary Director and Journalist Michael Knight recalls the wake-up call that would eventually convince him that “we are NOT alone.”
The First UFO - Of Many
by Michael Knight Posted: 13:19 October 20, 2009
Once upon a time, in a land far far away (New Zealand actually) I saw my first of many UFOs.
This is an extraordinary story, because many years later I would start seeing them far more often than most people ever do. And eventually, I would make a documentary including genuine footage of UFOs – much to the delight of the usual gang of debunkers who can never believe anyone who is telling the truth.
But that’s another issue.
Let’s step back in time to New Zealand, a very small South Pacific country where farmers fly round their sheep farms in microlights, real men hunt deer and elk from helicopters and have even been seen to leap from a chopper and bulldog a stag to the ground – on film.
But before we get to the exciting UFO part, let us step back in time to circa 1975, and for the purposes of this story, it was anything but a dark and stormy night.
In fact, it was one of those beautiful evenings when the breeze was carrying the scent of the ocean up the five hundred foot cliffs I had climbed earlier in the day, the salty tang of it still obvious a mile inland as I made camp for the night.
This had started as a deer hunting trip with a friend who, for his own reasons, took a different path up those cliffs and before we knew it, we were well and truly separated.
Neither of us was concerned about that. We had hunted many times on our own, sometimes not seeing another soul for a week or more. We simply followed our usual unspoken understanding that if separated for any reason, we’d meet back at the old Land Rover when we could.
In my case, being alone was a blessing. Life had had a few ups and downs in recent times, and in such circumstances it was always a pleasure to go bush – go solitary – be a hermit for a day or two away from the hustle and bustle and noise and chaos of the capital city, Wellington.
Back there, I was a radio and television reporter. As such, skepticism was a requirement – or so I believed at the time.
Therefore, whenever stories were phoned in about such things as for example “hey, I’ve figured out how to run my car on water,”…well, we investigated that one, but the guy just disappeared before we could really get to grips with the story.
And then there was the incident in which a TV news crew flying after dark up the east coast of the South Island, filmed a bunch of UFOs.
In retrospect, I have to say it was pretty strange that even though those flying lights kept pace with the plane they were filming from, and even though there was no way their film could have been doctored, the media actually gave the meteorological office a call and asked for an explanation of what the lights were.
That’s really a bit like calling a blind man and asking him to explain what a sunrise is. If you’ve never seen one, how can you even begin to venture an explanation, let alone express an “expert” opinion?
Well, there’s no shortage of people in New Zealand with opinions, and that’s what they’re most expert at.
So we journalists, always willing to anoint any official with the crown of “expert” quoted someone from somewhere as saying the UFOs were probably just the mast lights on a fleet of Japanese boats fishing illegally in our inshore waters.
I guess you could say that was a much better non-explanation than claiming the lights were fire-flies (there aren’t any in New Zealand) or weather balloons – or swamp gas (only ever detected in Parliament Buildings as far as I know). Or Martians on a cut price tour?
So there I was, making camp and happy to be alone.
First rule of making camp in the wild is to start some time before dark. Pick your spot, preferably near fresh water such as a running stream or river, set up your shelter (I wasn’t using one at the time, because there was no sign of rain) – make a fire – make your bed – and lie in it.
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